Tuesday, August 11, 2020

I Want My Hat Back

   Mobutu. He wasn't much for humanity; but, that's an awesome hat. It's the sort of hat that only a sociopath could wear with ease. It suits him.

I have a special hat I wear when on the water. I suspect you do as well. 

The brim keeps sun off my face and water from running down my neck. I've worn it too little this season. I've had about enough.

The rush up north -- where my trout live -- is about over. The locals are losing interest. It's time to do some serious camping again. 

It's time to put on the hat.

I'll pitch my tent near the water. Use the river's water for my morning coffee. I'll laugh at the brook trout who eagerly snatch my fly only to be returned to grow larger and more cautious.

I'll enjoy the feel of life at the end of my line and in the evening I'll enjoy a little scotch from my coffee cup.

Noblesse Oblige. If one knows, one must prepare. You are obliged to use the information you have for the good of your mates. I know things about the covid.

I also know my mates need time on the water.  Looks like it might be time to prepare for fall camp a little early.

I hope you get to wear you favorite hat a little more often in the months to come. 

I bet you all look dashing.


Tuesday, July 28, 2020

The Big Two-Hearted River

My buddy Matt fishing the famed Two-Hearted River this past week.


That sums up the year to date here at the Amber Liquid Anglers' clubhouse. Probably sums up your year,too.

We took a socially-distancing camping trip to Michigan's Upper Peninsula this past week. We each had our own tent/trailer/van. We socially distanced. We wore masks. It worked well enough.

The U.P. is a tough place to sight-read.The water was high as we arrived. The Two-Hearted itself came down eighteen inches while we were there.

These pictures represent some of our "lessons-learned."

Above: the Two-Hearted at Reed and Green bridge. It is lovely water -- once the river goes down. A great deal of tannin is present which makes wading a little uncertain. The bottom is hard and firm and wading is easy using ordinary caution.

Above: Lake Superior shoreline looking west near dusk. We camped at the Mouth of the Two-Hearted State Campground and found it easy enough to avoid other campers. I think I used about 125 sanitizer sheets while I was there. Superior having a surface temperature of sixty-four degrees did not attract a large number of swimmers, sunbathers, or aquasports enthusiasts. She kills a number of folks each summer who fall off their kayaks, go into the water, cramp, and drown.

Above: Paws in water.  One must experience the local waters for themselves. Superior can be refreshing on a bright eighty-nine degree day. Yes, fishing was tough in those conditions.

A typical U.P. road. Most of the roads are of this sort: dirt or sand running miles through forest without a break.. We covered a great deal of water and so roared down many miles of these. Keep an eye on the gas gauge. These are indeed the "boonies."

The Two-Hearted campground area suffered a massive forest fire a few years ago just as in Hemingway's day. The country near the lower end of the Two-Hearted is brutal. 

Obligatory tourist photos:

Two-Hearted (lite) on the Two-Hearted.

A river and some D.B. pointing to the sign instead of the water.

The North Country Trail and my friend Kevin making a short trip.

The Senator on the trial about one hundred feet above Lake Superior delighted to check messages thanks to Rogers in Canada. It was the only signal he could find for much of the trip.

The view from where The Senator stands in the above picture.

Those are two of our crew on the beach.

My crew beside a small unnamed lake. No masks as this is the "proof of life" photo. They worry about me sometimes.

A plaque to Hemingway at the Fox River (believed to be the actual river used in the Nick Adam's Stories).

That's my 8'  McKellip rod on a Steffen Bros. blank with a stacked leather grip and a Hardy Perfect which was indeed perfect.

The Fox is a mess, by the way. It is jungle fishing here on the east branch.

A typical U.P. hiking trail. Yep. That's the trail.

Above: The benefits of foraging in the right season. The general crop was almost ripe. Just mind the locals if you go picking.

The berry patch is never quite yours alone.

I hope your health is sound and the trout are happy to see you.

Prost. (My thanks to Larry Bell and company!).

Sunday, November 24, 2019

Fall Trout and Fun!

Above, a nice 20+" brown all colored-up. Thick-bodied tank.

I did some end-of-season fishing this weekend. I had a blast. I was on unrestricted season flies-only water that is open year round. I did not rob the redds! There were a few pairs showing some interest but I suspect the mating dance has passed for most of the the browns. Fishing from the bank. 

At left, a real tail-walker rainbow. He made the album for his circus act.  Fought hard for a fellow only a little over twelve inches. Maybe fourteen. Maybe..

Another brown. Nice fish.

Brookie. Another good fighter! Went 17 inches.

A nice rainbow something like sixteen to eighteen inches all peppered-up. Stunning.
A hare's ear flymph in 16 : a favorite of the rainbows. This fly is "resting" after several fish. I believe this is a brown hen hackled fly. Note how well the teased hare's ear holds up.

Grouse and synthetic hare's ear wrapped in micro-wire . Quite difference from the natural above though I did wire wrap the the whole thing so there's that ...

A wire wrapped SLF Hare's ear in #11 after some serious use. This fly took eleven fish in an hour. Same fly. All species. It would drift through a fifteen to twenty foot deep pool on very little current and the fish would take. I'd wait. I'd wait. Then I'd smoothly take up tension allowing the fish to hook themselves. They'd dive for the deep and the hookset was performed without any sudden motion from me.

In this cold water, the stream bite was short and soft. I caught one fish on streamers but had tons of short takes. Using the soft-hackles allowed the fish to catch themselves!

I lost the above fly on the next fish electing to cutting the line rather than digging in the gullet. Meh. He had hammered the fly -- one of the few to do so -- and rather than the side-jaw hinge hook, he'd swallowed it. So, I spared him the rooting around.

I haven't had any extended time on the stream since September and the Driftless so I was thrilled at the three day outing here. Great time. Fished with some fly typing buddies from the Beer Grotto Monday night sessions.

Can't wait to go tomorrow night. It is consistently the highlight of my social interaction each week.

Soft hackles -- even tied in the clumsy fashion evident in my wire wrapped above  -- can save the day. As I show in this post, they can withstand serious abuse from fish after fish while continuing to perform.

I didn't take a single fish on the Hornberg. Disappointed. I did take three trout on the surface with a copper-hued trailing shuck CDC X-caddis fly. The trailing shuck business works for me (Thanks, Lauren!) and the fly performs well when drowned and pulled as a micro-streamer.

It was the soft-hackle fly which dominated the weekend, though.

There was a fair amount of scotch taken internally for strictly medicinal purposes once we left the stream. It helped restore the humor after hours in a cold breeze.

Enjoy the Thanksgiving holiday. I'll be grateful for a great pre-holiday weekend outing!


Tuesday, October 22, 2019

Fur Harvesting

My recent absence can be explained in a name: Lilly, pictured at left.

She's the new pup in the house now at 11 months old. We've had her just over two months and it has taken that long to patiently mold her into a good companion what with the cats, the wife,  my wildlife visitors of foxes, turkey, deer, the possum family, chipmunks, and that damned black squirrel!

Barky Barky Barky.

Anyway, she's in our household and is cute as a button.

Uncle Lou pictured at left takes it in stride. He is a good partner and has done well determining what is worthy of a howl and what is just an incidental event.

The Amazon guy? Howl.

The turkey? Not so much.

So, I've tied a little this last month.

Things gradually are getting back to a placid routine. Monday night tying at the grotto in Dexter is going strong. There is talk of upcoming trips. The Catskills feature strongly and the local fly shop is bound for Cuba in a week. One of our friends fished the San Juan here a couple days back and killed 'em.

So: fall.

I've got some unruly CDC trailing shuck caddis here that I'll have on the Madison next summer.

Tied on some #16 1x short Partridge of Redditch I had lying around. The wing is maybe too much so I think I'll go online, look at some pictures, and maybe tie some with less mass.

They're drowned caddis, really. I'm not too worried is they're a little unkempt.

Hope all goes well here now that the season has closed. Looks like a long winter.


Wednesday, September 18, 2019

The Rains of the Driftless

Driftless trip to Vernon county last week. A bit of rain. Then a bit more. Finally: rain.

Todd drifting a line on the Timber Coulee on the night of our arrival. The water was stained but not bad. The fish responded.

Then, the first of the nightly storms blew through during the dark hours.

Our typical fare. Black leeches and black beadheads did produce a few fish.

Obligatory fish picture.

As it came in one afternoon.

Something I tried. No joy.

Bishop Branch Creek. Last day. Afternoon. One to hand.

Hello. Note the black micro-streamer: the week's trademark color.

I was in the wrong band. My companions moved to spin fishing for the week early on and had some success. The Gulp was there to pull my chains. I think. I never saw anyone using bait but bait guys can be sneaky.

We did eat fish. It is Vernon county and if there is anywhere in the world that can use some population relief, it is Vernon county.

Camp creek. Obligatory driftless cow pictures.

The outflow of the silt entrapment on Maple Dale creek. For reference, this held clear water for thirty-six hours until the silt worked through the impoundment.  Worth noting that this was some of the best water in the county when things started clouding up.

Look, rain is coming. Probably in the next hour.

Lightening, too.

Good trip, though. Rain is rain but silt ... well, silt sucks.


Tuesday, September 3, 2019

Flies and Flies: Driftless

AT left, my Pink Squirrel. As my wife reminds me, I am completely colorblind and she asks: "is it supposed to be a purple squirrel?" The Ice Dub bag said "pink."

Going to the Driftless here in a week with some novice and some not novice fly fishermen. It's a mixed bag.

We'll be artificial but a couple of the guys are clearly more about "fishing trip" than "fly fishing trip" which is fine. I'm the fellow with the maps and research.

I'll let the spin fisherman fend for themselves. Anybody can find the Timber Coulee. They'll be fine.

My Ausable Bomber at left. The calf hair shows poorly against the white of the cigar box. The tail is waxed red-dyed hen. Probably should trim this one so it doesn't wrap the hook.

My angora ant at left. i've thought a great deal about ants over the last couple years. This is what I have settled on for use. I try to segment the bodies a bit more but noticed: the trout didn't care.

I like this better than the ants with the bare abdomens and the single wrap of hackle in the middle. This guy has a hackle wrap in middle the but there is a bit of scissor work and comb-out on the end product. When wet, the stiff middle hackle does its job. 

Cigar box of some of the tie-ups. Left: squirrel; middle: bomber; right .... the San Juan worm.

Yes, converting spin fishermen involves catching and catching is easiest on the San Juan. (sigh).

Small crickets.
Small hoppers.

I think that selection works for an afternoon. Add in some Adams and Syl's Midges and we're good for a day.

I'll use a partridge and orange and a pheasant and herl. 


Thursday, August 29, 2019

The Wabakimi Report

It isn't about trout. Rather, it is the Canadian fly-in experience.  We were on the lake the first week of August and I've been playing catch-up at work and home (new beagle moved into the house when I returned).

So photos and comments:

The toasted ham-bacon-egg breakfast sandwich. Huge hit this trip. Wrapped in a paper towel and foil and it is a boat-ready breakfast.

Fishing partner after drive to Canada. We're at the Hideaway Lodge in Emo, Ontario. Doug and Kathy are great hosts, though Kathy has grown tired of our 4:30 AM fly-out bit.

Cloud tops, Fly-out morning. Low ceiling today.

My seatmate: Moki the Power Hoe. He's got a new Briggs-built engine and is on the way to Wabi with me. The thing is pretty much just possessed. The hoe, when running, is subject to random thrashing. Yea - it was manhandled out of the plane.

The Otter all tatted-up like a 70's conversion van.

Nice work, though.

My $2200 fish. (First fish).

Mike's first fish (mine's bigger ... though that was the smallest he caught all week).

Bear swimming. Best photo I have. We saw two. This was the best snap.
Gut bucket.

Guts on bushes of island guarding our lagoon.

Trying for an eagle pic. He's shy and won't come down. Gulls are however not camera shy.

Guts always attract an audience ... this time my fishing partner.
Rare snap of Mike driving the boat. He ran over the buoy. Hooked a buoy 4 times. Hooked the anchor line.

Subsequently fired.

 Morning prior to a day's outing.

An a panorama of the lagoon.

Going through the Honey Hole to the Lower Wabi.

Thanks for indulging me. I'm not going back for a couple years and this trip will always be special. Too much travel to cover and Wabi has been good to me. Time to see some other country, too.